Video Calling Is Here to Stay But Needs a Tech Upgrade


The last two years has seen a growing dependence on video meetings. While most of us are accustomed to the usual tools, it is probably time for an upgrade in their technology drive ease of use and engagement. Bryan Stallings, chief evangelist at Lucid, discusses tech upgrades that could improve video calls.

During the past two years, video meeting apps, such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Meet have become indispensable tools for many companies, allowing communication when team members could no longer be near each other. However, as we progress further into 2022, it’s become clear businesses will need to develop better meeting practices and adopt supplemental technology to optimize the daily use of video meeting apps truly. 

See More: 4 Ways to Make Your Virtual Meetings Productive and Inclusive

The Current State of Video Meetings 

According to a study from Stanford UniversityOpens a new window , symptoms of constant video calls can include excessive close-up eye contact and intense amounts of cognitive strain trying to read social cues through a screen. Additionally, meeting participants may develop anxiety from staring at themselves all day on video calls. 

When workers are simply trying to survive video calls throughout the day, they have less time to offer creativity and productivity in each meeting. The symptoms mentioned above have less to do with the sufficiency of video conferencing solutions but rather how effectively employees are interacting and communicating when using these solutions. In hybrid settings, it can become easy for communication to suffer. Meeting leaders may overlook remote participants or remote participants may feel as if their input isn’t valued. For example, if a free flow of ideas breaks out amongst the meeting attendees in the office, a remote participant may not sense when they can jump in and offer input. It’s possible, due to inadequate wifi or natural video lag, they may feel they’re interrupting the very meeting they’re supposed to be a part of.

When remote participants can’t communicate effectively, they may feel disempowered and won’t be productive and engaged. If meeting leaders aren’t careful, video calls can turn from a medium that fosters effective collaboration amongst team members to a medium that extinguishes it. 

In 2022, getting more out of virtual meetings will mean optimizing video conferencing by adding technological and meeting best practices solutions that can spur engagement and collaboration. 

Practical Meeting Facilitation

We can take a few steps to ensure everyone gets the most out of the virtual meeting best to encourage effective collaboration in a hybrid work environment.

Long before the video call begins, it’s important to identify who needs to be in the meeting. Ensure that every meeting participant has a meeting invite that includes a video link regardless of location. This helps underscore the fact that remote workers are not an afterthought but have a level playing field with in-office team members. In addition, sending everyone a clear agenda that describes the meeting purpose, objectives and topics before the meeting, sets the tone for effective collaboration.

As participants join, greet and welcome them. Encourage everyone to turn on their camera. Do a brief audio check if necessary. Confirming that every participant can be both seen and heard will ensure any barriers to collaboration are addressed at the outset. As the meeting progresses, invite participation from every meeting attendee. This could mean asking the group, “Who haven’t we heard from” or “We’ve heard from many in the room, but what perspective might those not in the room be holding?”  Interaction is essential to avoid having remote workers feel like an afterthought during the meeting.

Dr. Steven RogelbergOpens a new window suggests it could also be helpful to establish meeting norms that create perpetual expectations for meeting attendees. If the meeting facilitator knows the meeting will be long, they can establish set break times. Facilitators could also establish speaking time limits, such as 60 seconds, to assure an increase in participation and allow all meeting participants a chance to speak.  

The meeting host could also increase involvement by starting a survey on a topic gathering initial feedback, shift to a facilitated group discussion, then moving to a brainstorming activity.  Meeting leaders could boost engagement through a working session with an online shared whiteboard. This would help level the playing field for participant interactions regardless of location. Also, this prevents meetings from becoming stagnant and combats meeting exhaustion, especially in hybrid or remote settings.

Skilled facilitators access all their senses to observe the group’s engagement and energy level and then use those insights to adapt and steer the session. For example, each planned element during a meeting has an energetic arc—a trajectory similar to a ball thrown high into the air. The key to a good meeting is managing the timing and transitions at each point of the arc. Take a team exercise, for example. An engaging exercise will take the meeting’s energetic arc up and up, but that effect won’t last the entire meeting. At some point, the activity will peak, and the arc will flatten, start to fall and could plummet. Effective facilitation is about sensing that arc, bringing the exercise to a close, and shifting to the next activity just before the energy moves towards decline.

It’s also important to be deliberate with meeting endings. Don’t just let the time expire and the participants fade away. Instead, make clear to each attendee which goals you accomplished and outline the planned next steps. Also, set aside time at the end of each meeting to offer appreciation and seek feedback.

Doing so facilitates an effective close to the meeting and ensures the video call was worth everyone’s time. According to Enterprise Agile Coach Simon McPhersonOpens a new window , if you focus on starting well and closing well, the rest tends to go better, and you end up raising the bar on your meetings. 

Tech Solutions to Optimize Video Calls

In addition to good meeting practices, the right applications used in connection with video calls can achieve alignment amongst teams, enabling more effective communication.

These additional solutions are crucial because by using them in partnership with video calls, the applications can bring enhanced collaboration into the workflows teams already use. This creates an environment that fosters smoother communication within teams and, in turn, more productive work. 

Certain video conferencing solutions come with in-app tools to enhance productivity. For example, in-app surveys and/or polls can promote feedback and encourage meeting participation during video calls. Meeting facilitators can ask questions either during the meeting or afterward. These tools will provide participants with real-time feedback on pressing issues and elicit participation from meeting attendees who’d prefer to provide opinions anonymously. 

It’s also important to strengthen engagement through supplemental collaborative tools during virtual meetings. For example, solutions such as virtual whiteboards can physically document team members’ ideas, help solidify post-meeting plans and indicate ownership of certain action items. Also, within a virtual whiteboard, some practices could include using interactive timelines to set parameters for synchronous and asynchronous work and help avoid confusion about deadlines.

This solution is also perfect for audio-only meetings or attendees who feel less comfortable being on video or speaking up during a meeting. These individuals can contribute ideas and share feedback through post-it notes, polls and surveys without feeling the pressures commonly associated with video calls.

When companies invest in processes and applications that enhance the use of video meeting apps, business leaders can ensure every meeting produces alignment within teams and moves  business objectives forward. 

See More: 5 Ways Fewer Online Meetings Lead to Better Collaboration

Take Video Conferencing to the Next Level

Despite the research on fatigue surrounding video conferencing apps, there remain remedies for how teams inadequately use these apps.  The responsibility lies with team leaders to focus on using those tools to foster greater collaboration. Effective facilitation is further advanced in a hybrid or virtual environment using surveys, whiteboards and other collaboration-enhancing solutions. It’s time for these solutions to become the standard within the workplace and for business leaders to look for even more ways to enhance the daily use of video meetings. Only then will companies be able to increase productivity, create avenues for meaningful collaboration and foster a greater company culture no matter the location of its workers. 

How are you delivering a better video conferencing experience to your employees and clients? Share with us on LinkedInOpens a new window , TwitterOpens a new window , or FacebookOpens a new window . We’d love to know all about it!